Using Irish road and tourist signs as a Rosetta stone

You know you are in a different country when you fail to understand all of the content of road signs.  Fortunately most are in both English and Irish Gaelic, so navigation adventures of my trip to the Clans and Surnames Family History Conference in Nenagh, County Tipperary last week were not due signage.

Silvermines nature trail

Silvermines nature trail

I photographed a selection of signs once I had parked the car.  On a walk around Silvermines, a small village a few miles from Nenagh, I found a nature trail, a National Looped Walk or Lúb Náisiúnta, so learned some names of local wildlife and features.

Silvermine Trailhead Sign

Silvermine Trailhead Sign

Irish English
Colm Coille Woodpigeon
An Spideog Robin
Smólach Ceoil Song Thrush
Buíóg Yellowhammer
Droichead Bridge
Eidhneán Ivy
Ailleán Painted Lady Butterfly
Broc Badger
Fia Rua Red Deer
Druid Starling
Mhóna Riabhóg Meadow Pipit
Eaglais Church
gnáthóg fiáin Wildflower habitat
National School, Nenagh

National School, Nenagh

Single word signs give a direct translation, but where there are more words it isn’t obvious what each word means.  Walking around Nenagh, I photographed some more signs and made a bit more progress.  I heard about national schools during the conference, so the word for national, náisiúnta, appears in both on the trailhead sign and the school in Nenagh.

Nenagh Abbey on Abbey Street or sráid na mainistreach

Nenagh Abbey on Abbey Street or sráid na mainistreach

Mitchel Street

From sráid na mainistreach for Abbey Street and sráid an mhistéalaigh for Mitchel Street, I can deduce that sráid means street and mainistreach means abbey, but I am not sure what the difference is between the prepositions na and an.

Nenagh Courthouse

Nenagh Courthouse

Nenagh Castle Tourist Information

Nenagh Castle Tourist Information

The sign outside Nenagh Courthouse reads ‘teach cúirte an aonaigh’ and the information board at Nenagh Castle is headed ‘Caisleán an Aonaigh’, so the Irish form of Nenagh is Aonaigh.  One of complexities of Irish genealogy is navigating the geography in both English and Irish.

Nenagh Castle

Nenagh Castle

This was my first visit to Ireland, so I have much to learn.  I am only beginning to connect written Irish with how the words are pronounced by native Irish speakers.  A week ago, I had no idea how to pronounce Portlaoise, the venue for Clans and Surnames 2018.

 

© Sue Adams 2017

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5 Comments on “Using Irish road and tourist signs as a Rosetta stone”

  1. LisaGorrell says:

    Sue, I so enjoyed seeing your photographs! My Gleesons came from Silver Mines and I hope to someday visit.

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    • Sue Adams says:

      You are welcome Lisa. Did your Gleesons have any connection with the pub? There are some rent receipts dated in the 1890s hung over the fireplace which were paid by Michael Gleeson to Lord Dunally.

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      • LisaGorrell says:

        They left Ireland for Upper Canada in the 1820’s. So I doubt it. I don’t know if there is still family there.

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  2. daithi82 says:

    It’s been a few years since I had to study Irish grammar but from what I recall ‘Na’ is the definitive. So while the English translates to Abbey Street, what it would literally mean is ‘Street of the Abbey’. If you really want to hear how all of these things are pronounced take the train in Ireland sometime. All our trains announce the next stop in English and Irish

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    • Sue Adams says:

      Thanks for the grammar tip. Do the train announcements speaker at the same pace as the average native speaker? I kept wanting the natives at the conference to speak slowly!

      Like


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